The going rate for pocket money

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I give mine, aged 17 and 18, R75 a week, which comes to a total monthly outlay of R600. This falls within the parameters of what British parents give theirs: according to a recent poll by research group Halifax, the average UK child aged between 8 and 15 now gets £6.13 (about R88) a week.

My kids – who both have weekend and/or holiday jobs – use their pocket money to fund their entertainment. They save up for big-ticket items like iPods and cellphones – unlike British kids which, according to the Halifax report, use their pocket money ‘for minor expenses, with parents buying more expensive items for their children’.

Of course, the term ‘minor expenses’ is fairly elastic – for instance, UK kids’ cellphone bills, which come to an average of £8.38 or R120 a month, are largely paid for by their parents. My kids pay their own phone bills.

While I give my kids, basically, what I can afford, it’s hard to pinpoint an ‘average’ allowance for South African children. My children have friends who get no pocket money at all – their parents simply can’t afford it. Yet they have others who are, in my opinion, vastly ‘overpaid’ – a few get over R500 a week! These ‘rich kids’ sometimes fund my own children’s entertainment – they pay for movie tickets, steakhouse meals and the like – and I must admit this makes me uncomfortable.

Another poll, this one done by Synovate last year, did point up something very interesting about us: the vast majority (91%) of South African parents teach their children to save money (compared to, interestingly, more than half of parents in Cyprus who teach their kids about the stock market). Also, according to the poll, more than half of South African children have to do chores to earn their pocket money, while 96% of American kids just get it given to them.

While my kids don’t ostensibly ‘earn’ their pocket money, they’re pretty cheerful about doing chores – they help out with housework, clean the car, look after the animals, and so on. And when I consider that my char, who works her butt off every Friday cleaning for my kids and me, earns R180 a stint and supports a family on her daily earnings, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that kids stretch themselves a bit to earn their moolah.

Do you give your children pocket money?  If so, then how much? And how much is too much?

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